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Dancing With Lions

Levels by Avicii. RIP my man

Really feeling the nostalgia this weekend. It’s a beautiful sunny day. I have just realized for the first time that if I draw back the crutains on my front window, I can look out and see the top of Bernal Heights hill. This is hitting me a little hard right now. It took this thesis of this post right out of my ~mouth~ hands. It was nothing special, just something along the lines of

  • Live in the moment
  • You don’t know what you have until it’s gone
  • I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them 1

But really, really, really, the last one. The EDM musician Avicii passed away this last weekend. At that time, I thought that sucked - he was super popular and super young {28}, damn. And then I didn’t think about it again. The same way I act when any celebrity passes away, if I’m being honest. But then I got home, and decided to play some Avicii. It just seemed appropriate. Instantly, I was transported back 6 years ago. Those trashy, lovely bars we would go to sophomore year. Joe’s, White Horse, Kam’s, but above all else, Red Lion.

It’s not that I had actively suppressed those memories2, they just seemed like a different life. The mix on YouTube kept playing - all those EDM or pop tracks I had just forgotten about. Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Krewella, Ellie Goulding. A few tears leaked about, I’m not going to lie. I had some read some articles in the middle of the day about how Avicii’s lyrics were a lot more… grounded? than what the beats and moods seemed to portray. All of these tracks really were promoting the same thing: they all acknowledged that no one (especially us) is perfect, but just, for a few brief minutes, stop worrying about all of that. Stop thinking about every goddamn second and just breathe and… dance, I guess.

I was never that good at dancing, but I am really good at moving in time. I’m also a massive believer in reading all the lyrics - they’re in the song for a reason! I’m not saying every song needs them, but if the words are there, you owe it to yourself to read them3. These songs aren’t too complex lyrically either (love the retrobbreviation Exciting Dumb Music) so you can infer body gestures pretty quickly. Put two and two together and voila, you can pretend to dance for a whole measure. Keep doing that and you might make it through a song. Get a couple drinks in you and you can keep it going for an entire night.

Can’t have a RIP Avicii post without mentioning Wake Me Up. It’s been analyzed to death, so I’m not going to add too much more on top of what’s already out there, but holy shit, has that song aged well.


A Swedish man making a mix of electronic dance music and… folk? bluegrass? Sounds like the kind of thing you hear as joke mix. But not only does this song work… it fucking kills. Same themes as mentioned above - lost, confused, yet not going to worry too much right now. The beautiful layering: first banjo and guitar, then the EDM bass and kick. Add some low synthy chords in the background, and build up for all of it with an echo. BOOM, drop the synth on top. Let it drizzle aroudn, wriggling it’s way into your head. What makes the chorus so GOOD? Is it the rhythm? The tone? How does he convince us all that he in fact is writing some good old fashioned bluegrass with a synthesizer?

I didn’t know I was lost

Me neither, until I opened the window shades. Take it easy up there, and thanks for everything.

  1. Yes Andy, someone should write a song about that. ↩︎

  2. Well, maybe a couple… ↩︎

  3. Lyrics are the most literal example of Chekov’s gun. ↩︎